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“My most important job is making sure my employees are happy and engaged.”

Posted on Wednesday, Nov 29, 2017

What it takes to be a CFO in construction | Hays BlogWas finance always your career path? Have you ever second guessed it?

I began my career as a civil engineer. I pursued an MBA and fell in love with finance. I found that the quantitative and analytical skills required to be a successful engineer were very transferrable to finance and accounting.

What part of your job are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about bringing new technologies to the construction industry. By many standards construction is still very low-tech. If you look at the arc of how new technologies have disrupted other industries, construction is very much in its infancy. Companies that embrace this line of thinking will have a competitive advantage. At Plaza, we are working on many initiatives to bring innovative technologies both to the job site and to back office functions. In finance and accounting, we are automating and streamlining our billing and subcontractor management processes, and bringing finance and operational dashboards to our project teams and clients.

What is the biggest obstacle you’ve faced along your career path?

I wouldn’t consider it a huge obstacle, but not having an accounting degree or a CPA has been somewhat of a challenge. The technical aspects of accounting, while esoteric, are extremely important for financial reporting and analysis and being able to understand the balance sheet.

How did you overcome this?

Slowly over time I developed a strong foundation of accounting principles and practices. I rely heavily on my controller and ask a lot of questions.

What soft skills/characteristics are integral to the role?

Leadership is the most important characteristic. You have to be a strong manager and mentor to your team because ultimately you rely on your team to produce results. My most important job is making sure my employees are happy and engaged.

What technical skills are integral to the role?

Having a strong foundation of finance and accounting principles of course. Being able to analyze large quantities of disparate data and translate the data into a simple, coherent, discernable message that can be easily understood at all levels of the organization. A willingness and aptitude to adopt new technologies. A keen eye for process improvements and streamlining inefficiencies.

How important is it to be exposed to all areas of the business?

It is most important to be exposed to operations. Finance and operations need to be closely synched to have a successful business. My background in engineering is immensely useful in being able to understand the technical and operational challenges and risks of the projects that we build.

In y
our opinion, how important is networking?

Networking is important, but not as important as most people think. Whether a company or an individual, it is more important to develop a strong reputation and brand. When you have a strong reputation, the opportunities find you.

In your opinion, how important is social media for networking/helping one achieve their career goals? What social media channels are you on?

LinkedIn is a very important tool for developing your brand and connecting you with opportunities.

Compared to five or 10 years ago, how would you say your role has evolved?

There is much more overlap between finance and IT. I see the roles of CFO and CIO becoming more closely integrated. Ultimately finance and accounting is all about providing useful information to help make the right decisions so the company is successful. IT can help to make sure the information is delivered efficiently and accurately.

What advice would you give to the next generation of aspiring to finance leaders?

It’s a theme I have mentioned throughout this interview, but staying on top of new technologies!

What are you doing to keep growing your career? (e.g. keep up with industry, continue learning, take on new challenges)

Trying to learn new things every day!

About Mike Capuzzi

Mike Capuzzi has 15 years’ experience in the Engineering and Construction industry. He began his career as a structural engineer working on the design of large infrastructure projects and later pursued an MBA and moved into finance and accounting. With a wide range of experiences working for different types of companies, Mike is most excited by bringing new technologies and analytical methods to the industry. He is currently the CFO of Plaza Construction, a large general contractor with offices in New York, Miami, and DC.

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